Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Letter to Mom, Post-moving

As I was typing out the following email to Mom, I realize that I might as well post it as my little summary of my past very exhausting 3 days of moving.

Wish I could stay in Shanghai and unpack all of my 20 boxes from Japan. But leaving on a 8:30am flight to Seoul tomorrow ...

At least my post-graduation transition is finally coming to an end with settling into my new apartment ...


Dear Mom,

Thanks for your email. I'm completely moved in now. The moving process wasn't so bad 'cuz I was lucky enough to find a really good moving company -- according to C, that really is considered a stroke of rare luck, 'cuz out of all of her experiences with moving in the past 4 years, not one of them was pleasant. But running around shopping for new stuff for the apartment and fixing things here and there has been extremely tiring. I know it could just be the moving process that aggregates the feelings of unsettledness, but I'm really getting frustrated with people constantly wanting to cheat on me and shockingly poor customer service at places like Ikea and Carrefour, supposedly international brand name stores.

China is a place that really exhausts you. You step out of the door and for no good reason you get yelled at by whoever you come in contact with. Another analogy that better describes how I feel is this -- it's like one walking out of the door expecting to just have an easy and "normal" day, yet suddenly many big and small rocks fall from the sky out of nowhere, and one either dodges them barely or comes home wounded if not traumatized, both physically and mentally. The school hasn't been very helpful either. The international exchange office has been an extreme fuss with not yet getting my long-term visa ready, so I'll need to go through the hassle of getting another visa in Seoul even though this visa will only an one-time entry, AGAIN. And guess what? Our dear Chinese consulate in Seoul doesn't even accept visa applications from non-Korean citizens. So now I need to go through a local Korean travel agent -- with extra charges of course! -- in order to get my visa back to China.

Again, why does the school/China have to make things so difficult for someone whom they supposedly want to hire?

I realize that I'm going through a lot of cultural shock issues. This is at first puzzling to me 'cuz this isn't my first time living in China. But I think it may have to do with my past 3 years of living, studying, and working in Japan. In order to survive China, I literally need to "de-Japanize" myself or unlearn everything that Japan has taught me -- about professionalism, about politeness, about hygiene, about common courtesy, about standards of perfection, the list goes on. This is not to say that I'm going to start acting like the Chinese, but I do need to start "expecting" differently and stop "hoping" that the Chinese will in any way behave like the Japanese or the Westerners. It's simply impossible, 9 out of 10 cases.

On a positive note -- I totally love my new apartment. I purchased a really nice carpet (orange/red with a modern-style rose motif), which makes the living room really cozy, and adding some floor lamps also helps make the apartment warm and homey. I love how convenient the location is -- literally one minute from the subway stop, and subway line one is the most convenient line of all. I also love the feel of the neighborhood -- French concession with 梧桐樹 everywhere.

The only downside of this apartment complex so far is that the security guards at the door, the 管理員, are completely useless. One of them looks at me with this blank face no matter what questions I ask him. The other does nothing but chain smokes (occasionally he picks up a broom and sweeps the dusk off the floor -- but only from one corner to the other corner, not from the floor to the trash can, it seems like). This 水電工 (plumber/electric guy) also has been a jerk lying to me and ripping me off big time the other day. I wish the landlord could've warned me about him or told me more stuff about this complex (in the end, perhaps the landlord/lady aren't as nice as the agent said). But in the end, it's only merely one of the many instances where I've got cheated by people anyway ...

I'm leaving tomorrow real early for Korea. Will have an important meeting in the afternoon and a full-day conference on Sat. Monday I'm also giving a talk a S Univ. Neither presentations are completely done yet though ... *sigh*

Hope all is well. Will keep you updated via email.


梅ちゃん at 10:26:00 PM



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